Disney Speedstorm Early Access Review

Disney Speedstorm promo image of racers.

Disney Speedstorm on PS5

Disney has introduced so many characters throughout the past century who mean the world to fans, so any time they bring those characters to life again and let us Disney lovers feel close to them, it becomes a magical experience. Disney in partnership with Gameloft gave us Dreamlight Valley last year, a life simulator where you can get to be friends with your favorite Disney characters, and now they’ve brought us a new game that heavily contrasts with the coziness of their previous title: Disney Speedstorm, an action-packed racing game that’s now available in early access.

Sully racing in Disney Speedstorm.
Image source: Gameloft via Twinfinite

We’ve seen Mickey Mouse’s company dive into the racing genre before, with games like Walt Disney World Quest: Magical Racing Tour and Cars 3: Driven to Win, but we’ve never seen so many of the iconic characters get together for a competitive race until now. Disney Speedstorm already has an incredibly diverse set of properties ranging from princess movies to even live-action films like Pirates of the Caribbean, which proves that nothing is off the table here.

Like many other kart racers, Disney Speedstorm’s characters come with a range of power-ups called skills that can give you a speed boost, let you target other players and briefly stun them, or make you temporarily invulnerable. Every character also has their own unique skill that matches the movie they came from, for example, Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. summons doors to the map that teleport him a short distance forward if he enters them, while opponents will go a little bit backward . Belle from Beauty and the Beast, on the other hand, can bring a set of furniture to the track that becomes an obstacle for other racers. That on its own already adds a lot of charisma to the battles.

Meg racing The Big Wall track in Disney Speedstorm.
Image source: Gameloft via Twinfinite

The racers are divided into four classes – Speedster, Defender, Brawler, and Trickster – that affect their stats and the skills they can use in a match. With their classes and unique skills combined, choosing to race as a different character actually becomes impactful to gameplay and it makes each racer feel like their own person.

It’s clear that a lot of work was put into giving the racers different personalities, but it’s disappointing how their karts don’t share that same sense of identity. Every character in a collection has the same car but with different colors, which doesn’t make sense for total opposites like Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann – wouldn’t it be more interesting if Jack’s kart resembled a pirate ship? You can do a bit of customization on the karts, though. I painted my Donald Duck car blue and gave it an orange wing in an attempt to make it look like a duck, but I do wish there were a few more ways to differentiate each person’s vehicle.

Mowgli's kart in Disney Speedstorm.
Image source: Gameloft via Twinfinite

Racing in Disney Speedstorm is a smooth experience, it’s easy to breeze through the tracks without putting much thought into anything but the match. Its easy controls combined with well-designed maps, stunning graphics, and detailed animations had me gaming for hours on end. The HUD is clear and the controls are easy to get familiar with, you’ll be performing satisfying slow-motion takedowns on your opponents in no time, just like in the Asphalt series. I also never felt empty-handed with so many skills coming my way, making every match feel action-packed from start to end.

When falling behind in a race, there are plenty of chances to make a comeback, which always kept me on edge as I tried to reach the finish line before the other racers. There’s also the thrill of a challenge, as the maps became increasingly more difficult while I progressed through the Starter Circuit, but the races never felt impossible to beat. Some maps require a higher level to complete, so there’s always something to accomplish when leveling up my characters. It was also satisfying to go back and redo the tracks that I previously failed to do challenges in after reaching a certain level.

Mickey Mouse boosting in the Pirate Bay in Disney Speedstorm.
Image source: Gameloft via Twinfinite

The soundtrack is something that really stands out. Every stage comes with classic songs from their respective movie in a remixed version that just adds to the fast-paced rhythm of racing. Driving through Mount Olympus while an intensified version of The Gospel Truth played in the background felt very epic with the lightning effects occurring around the map. After a few hours of playing, I found myself singing along to the Disney songs that I had stuck in my head for the rest of the day and thinking about my next race.

Where the game falls short is in navigating the menus, as there so many tabs are thrown on the screen. One minute I’m working my way through the Starter Circuit, then all of a sudden there’s a pop-up telling me I’ve unlocked the Season Tour which brings up a whole new page of Monsters Inc. tracks to be done. From the clunky main menu that’s loaded with things to click, to the confusing Collection page, Golden Pass, Season Tour, and so many different in-game currencies, there’s just a huge overload of information that I was left to absorb and I didn’ I don’t know where to focus my attention.

Disney Speedstorm main menu.
Image source: Gameloft via Twinfinite

There’s a lot on the screen to look at, but the main points of interest are the Starter Circuit and the Season Tour. The Starter Circuit is pretty self-explanatory, as that’s where new players will likely begin racing and gaining most of their experience. While the Season Tour is like an extension of the Golden Pass (the battle pass) that offers players extra challenges to get even more XP, upgrade parts, and character shards to unlock the new racers introduced.

There are plenty of shards for the featured cast in the Golden Pass, but it can certainly be a grind to get specific racers that you want, especially those not featured in the latest season. To unlock new characters, you need to collect their shards by doing limited events or opening up Universal Boxes and the seasonal boxes, and yes, those are in fact, loot boxes… The usage of the loot box system in this game means things can start to get very grindy, especially if you don’t want to spend real money on in-game currency. Belle is my favorite Disney princess, but she also happens to be of epic rarity which means my chances of acquiring her shards are slim.

Local Freeplay mode in Disney Speedstorm.
Image source: Gameloft via Twinfinite

Even with its confusing main menu and discreet usage of loot boxes, the future seems bright for Disney Speedstorm as it’s still only in early access and Gameloft plans to constantly update the game with new characters, tracks, and modes. It’s also going to become free-to-play in the near future, making it an even easier game to jump into with friends across all platforms. Most kart racers provide the most fun by playing locally with friends and family, but this one differs by bringing the genre to the online scene with its addition of features like a battle pass, ranked mode, and themed seasons. We can only hope that the positive online aspect doesn’t become negative by locking everything behind a paywall.

All in all, Disney Speedstorm is a game that I can see myself returning to, both for the new seasons and to dive into high-action races with my favorite Disney personalities. There aren’t many other live service games in the racing genre, so for those who love cosmetics, Disney, or playing with friends, this title will be a great addition to the mix and an upbeat way to take a break from the shooters and battle royales.

Twinfinite Editors Choice Award

Disney Speedstorm Critic Review

Reviewer: Starleen Rivera | Awards: Editor’s Choice | Copy provided by Publisher.